My friend Shannon sent me this picture of kids playing soccer in the fog – it is awesomely spooky and reminds me of Grim Hill.
Speaking of Grim Hill I will be attending a couple of events in October.
October 3rd, 4th & 5th I’ll be at VON — Vancouver’s Science Fiction Convention helping out in the writers’ workshop and appearing on various panels. http://www.vcon.ca/
October 18th I’m super excited to be presenting at the Junior Writers Conference in Richmond. http://laurathomascommunications.com/conference/
October 23rd I’ll be attending the BCTLA (BC Teacher Librarian Association’s )75th Gala.
I hope to see lots of friendly faces.
So like I said, I ripped open the envelope and…lived happily ever after?
I lifted the paper out of the envelope with trembling hands, unfolded the letter only to see it was a rejection fired back. So I sent out my story – again and again. Rejections were fired back again and again.
Curiously undaunted, I joined a critique group that I’d read about in a community brochure. Armed with my manuscript, I read my story to the group and sat back waiting for accolades. But all they gave me was advice. Sigh.
Oddly undaunted again, I sifted through the advice, reflected on the advice, rewrote bits of the story and submitted it again. The rejection came back, but this time with the comment that the imagery could still be sharper. Strangely, I still didn’t feel daunted. Instead I sort of felt complimented even though I hadn’t been. But I’d been treated like a real writer because an editor had taken a moment to point out how my writing could improve.
That process of writing the time travel story was the defining moment – that the writing, the crafting, the utter joy of creating could not be diminished by anything, because in the making of the story, and in the determination of sending it out, and sending it out again, I had become a writer!
Did that story ever get published?
Tune in for part five–
Okay, here’s where it got hard – sort of…well, not in the beginning.
Armed with the genre, an idea, a mood, and an atmosphere of mystery, I launched into a story about a woman who is drawn into a time portal.
I wrote with such fervour that by the end of a day, I’d written down the entire short story. Oh, how exciting it had been – as if I’d been on the grand adventure with my main character. Then over the next bit of time, how I loved crafting the sentences, mastering metaphors, and tightening the tension.
That fast, I’d fallen into a new passion, and strangely, developed a strong desire to share it with people.
So, I read the story to my husband who suggested I send it to the New Yorker (which is one of the reasons he’s a keeper) and I asked my friends to read it.
When a friend said, your story made me want to live in that apartment, to be that woman, I thought – mission accomplished!! That’s exactly how I wanted my reader to feel.
I got out an envelope and stuffed the story inside it, bought a stamp, carefully folded a return stamped envelope (I’d quickly done some homework and found out about proper manuscript format and how to submit a story) and fired it off to a SF magazine.
I waited on pins and needles for the magazine’s reply.
Then one day shortly after I sent out my manuscript, a letter from the magazine arrived.
I held my breath as I ripped open the envelope…
Tune in for Part Four
So I wanted to write a time travel story, but I needed a plot – or at least a plot bunny (which is like a dust bunny only instead of dust, you roll an idea around in your head until it gets bigger.)
I remembered how one summer when my nieces and nephew were visiting from Ireland, we’d taken them to the beach all summer. Every week we’d walk by a ground-floor apartment in an arty and hip beach neighbourhood, as we carried beach balls, blankets, snacks, and held little hands. I looked into the open curtains of that apartment and felt a sense of wonder at its bohemian décor. There was something magical about the scattered Persian rugs, ceramic vases filled with hydrangeas and roses, and stacks of books topped with chipped china tea cups perched on saucers. There was even a velvet settee with a silk robe tossed over the arm.
I imagined this was a place of residence for an actor or artist or musician. In other words, to me it was a portal into a totally different life.
Then low and behold years later, my husband and I would once again pass by that apartment on the way to the beach. We were once again loaded down with beach balls, sand buckets, blankets, and the small hands of our own children. Yet there the apartment stood, it seemed to me, unchanged over the years…
Not only was it a portal to another life, but it was frozen in time.
I had my time travel story. So I picked up that heavy pen and set it to paper…
Tune in for part three–
Do you think Sookie looks a little spooky?
What’s in a name?
Well, think about your own name. Does your name have a meaning? Who named you? Are you named after someone? Do you like your name? Have you adopted a nickname?
Get the picture – names are complicated and interesting…That doesn’t change if you are a fictional character.
So when an editor asks me to rewrite the ending, or fix a chapter, or start in a different place, I say, “Sure, no problem.” (um, after a long walk.) But when an editor asks me to consider renaming a character, I might dig in my heels and say, “What? – I’m not so sure about that…” Suddenly (and uncharacteristically) I’m a little stubborn.
That’s because I’ve already gone through the process listed above. What I haven’t done is pulled a name out of thin air. Sometimes I have favourite names I am waiting to bestow on just the right character (as I’m doing now with my new manuscript.) Other times, I’ve made word associations with my character and my character’s name. To unravel those associations is a challenging task.
In one instance a long time ago, a publication changed my character’s name without consulting me. To this day, I wince thinking how that didn’t work. If they had consulted me about the name they chose, I’d have gone back and unravelled and rewoven some of the supporting details.
What’s in choosing the right name? For me, quite a lot…
Are cats and writers supposed to go together? Most writers I know have pets, a few have dogs but the majority have cats. For me, we’ve always had family pets, but it’s been the kids who devoted themselves to our animals.
Until my son brought home a lost kitten…
The furry little guy had been trapped under a cement porch for several days until my son and friend coaxed him out. Then my son phoned and said, “I don’t want to take him to the shelter. He’s really cute, can I bring him back?” Only for a few days until you find a nice place for him, I’d answered.
The kitten had lost most of his tail, and he was dehydrated and starved. How had he even survived in this coyote and racoon ridden neighbourhood? I’ll admit I wasn’t looking forward to even a few days with a wild and terrified cat.
So what did the kitten do when my son brought him home? He leaped out of his arms, padded across the floor and jumped into my arms where he snuggled and wrapped his little paws around my neck, thereby wrapping me around his… er…cat finger…He actually sighed in relief.
So he’s stayed with us happily ever after? Well, sort of. You see, he is a little wild – and random – and he bites and scratches. I thought as he got older he’d settle in. Not so much.
Then my sciencey friend set to work trying to unravel the enigma of my cat – -how he was totally devoted to me one minute, and biting or scratching me the next.
Apparently he’s a hunter – and he has to dominate his jungle. But like I said, we live in a neighbourhood where cat posters are a weekly appearance – so he has to be an indoor cat.
So my friend advised me to set out tasks for this furry friend – he needed fake birds to chase (I found a cool wand with feathers that looks like a fluttery bird) and a tunnel to hide in and watch his prey, and hidden cat treats that he has to hunt for…
This has helped somewhat, but I shake my head even thinking about my slow descent into cat madness.
On the upside, he’s been a little calmer now the weather’s improving, and he sits outside on the deck with me while I try to read or write. Try is the operative word, because lately he waits until I’m not paying attention and then he jumps over the rail and sneaks into the yard. Then I go chase him – yeah, great fun.
Maybe writers and pets go together. It’s nice to be tapping away at the keyboard while a furry creature cuddles at your feet.
However, my furry friend has sharp teeth and claws.
Well, here’s the thing. I’m backpedalling a little to get Carnival of Secrets and the other Grim Hill books available in as many places as possible. I did my homework, consulted established author/publishers and made choices. I also made mistakes every step of the way!
If it had all gone smoothly, I’d have learned something. Because I’ve had to figure out my mistakes, fix my mistakes, repeat and repeat, I’ve learned a LOT. I can hardly believe that I just got off the line with tech support and how a few months ago, I’d not have understood almost a thing I’d just said.
Who knew. I want everything to go smoothly. I hate making mistakes. I know people learn from their mistakes. I didn’t realize that I learned so much more from mistakes. I could have used this insight for high school math:)
Anyhow, much has been worked on, much is in progress and the upside is, books will be more accessible in Canada. It’s not impossible to order them now, but they’ll be easier to order and have library catalogue numbers etc.
To keep people tempted, when release dates get closer (fingers crossed it will be soon) I’ll be posting chapter four of Carnival. (Evil grin)